It’s a war zone - but the Western Cape is being left to deal with it on its own, writes Kevin Ritchie. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

If South Africa were truly free and fair, we would know it by the outrage. We would know it by the way we treat tragedy and how we react. One life lost through violent crime would be one too many.

The truth, though, is that there seems to be a scale - not just of media coverage but of social media coverage, overlaid by geographical distance and the shameless indifference of politicians punctured by the tireless efforts of highly effective rights and lobby groups.

Farm murders, or more pertinently the killing of almost exclusively white people in remote rural areas, are becoming increasingly better covered - due largely to the tireless efforts of AfriForum in particular, which bangs on any and every door it can, here and abroad.

Statistically, farm murders are a minute proportion of the overall and horrifically high South African murder rate - which doesn’t for a moment lessen the tragedy or diminish the ferocious brutality with which they are invariably carried out, but it does put into sharp relief the other tragedy that is playing out in Cape Town.

Six women were shot and killed in the Marcus Garvey areas of Philippi in Cape Town on Friday night.

That alone should have been worthy of front-page news in every Sunday paper, but that was just the beginning.

On Saturday night, five men were shot dead in the same area.

All in all, 55 people were either shot or stabbed to death in greater Cape Town last weekend.

It’s a war zone - but the Western Cape is being left to deal with it on its own.

We have become so inured to this that the biggest Sunday newspaper in the country can run a front-page story - literally less than a fortnight before the slaughter - warning Cape Town is on the brink of becoming the most dangerous city in the world, and yet we keep turning the pages to the latest schlock and schleb news.

There are many reasons; historically, socially and politically, for this blindness and not a single one of them has ever been valid. Instead what we are seeing is the most awful realpolitik at play.

What is happening in Cape Town, what has been allowed to develop on the forgotten and dumped communities of the Cape Flats, has to be a crime against humanity: 1 875 people have been killed there this year.

In June last year, there were 344 murders in Cape Town. This year that number had spiralled to 448.

Put another way; last month AfriForum released its year to date statistics on the farm murder phenomenon: there were 184 farm attacks and 20 people murdered between January and May - throughout the entire country.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is the Cape Flats doesn’t have its own Afriforum.

Thankfully, as of Friday, the army is now being deployed as an interim measure, but it will take more than just boots on the ground for a couple of months to properly address the enduring tragedy that is the Cape Flats whose ramifications affect us all - if for no other reason than we are all South Africans and one person who is gunned down is one too many.

* Kevin Ritchie is a media consultant. He is a former journalist and newspaper editor.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Saturday Star